Once Malcolm had a basic understanding, he found himself improvising alongside his regular practice. By the age of 12, he realised that he wanted to write some of these ideas down, so this became the starting point to his career as a composer. During his teens, he listened to a considerable amount of new music and basically taught himself to write, learning from what he heard. For him, writing music was not a choice, it was something he had to do. With minimal input from other musicians, he won two prizes: a setting of the Magnificat (in English) for the "Free Church Choir Union" and a Sonatina for the Brent Music and Dance Festival, a work which was later to form the first movement of his Piano Sonata No. 1 – Restoration.
Even though Malcolm won other awards and secured performances of his music, it was not until 2004 that he was in a position to pursue a degree in music. To this end, he studied for his Masters in Composing Concert Music at the Thames Valley University in London (now the University of West London), graduating with distinction in 2005.
Having an online presence, performances have been secured in 15 different countries around the world. Much of his music has been received well by audiences with fantastic feedback on-line from listeners not normally associated with new ‘art’ music.
The inspiration for Malcolm’s work is varied: some based on landscape and surroundings and others on social and spiritual concepts. From his early years when learning piano, he has heard music in his mind and much has been begging to be written down. Despite this, it has taken a number of years for him to find his own individual voice. Some works written in the mid-80s do reflect individuality but he now considers the works he wrote for his Masters during 2004 and beyond to be his true ’voice’.
Sound files: http://www.reverbnation.com/malcolmdedman
What Musical Genre Do You Feel Best Describes Your Music And How Would You Describe Your Sound?
Most of my music falls into the 'Contemporary Art Music' Category. It is the 20th and 21st century extension of the classical and romantic periods of music, expanding and exploring sound to its full. My personal sound is influenced by the music of Béla Bartók and Olivier Messiaen; although entirely different composers, they have influenced my way of thinking from the start of my composing career.
I have also written a few pieces in what is commonly known as 'new age' or 'ambient' music.
How Did You Get Your Name? Is There A Story?
I am not a member of a band and I do not play my own music, so I use my given name. There is therefore no story to tell!
What Are or Have Been Your Musical Influences?
Besides the music of Béla Bartók and Olivier Messiaen, I listen to and am influenced by mainly 20th century composers, such as Stravinsky, John Adams, Steve Reich, etc. I have also been influenced by indigenous music from various countries, especially India, Japan and Africa - all this can be heard in some of my musical scores. Now we are in the 21st century, I feel that audiences need music that they can relate to, so the lessons we have learned from in the 20th century is that audiences appear more attracted to the 'post modern' phase, such as the many forms of minimalism expressed by Steve Reich, Avo Pärt, Henryk Górecki, etc. I aim to write music that I feel that audiences can relate, based on the experiences of the last 100 or so years.
The subject of my music can range from expressing spiritual and social issues as well as representing some music from various countries. I currently live in South Africa so I have been influenced by the life and death of Nelson Mandela as well as the beautiful scenery this country has to offer.
What Are You Working On Now? Any Future Collaborations We Can Look Forward To?
I have not actually started any thing new, have just completed an orchestration of my cantata 'Healing the Planet'. I have plans for a major orchestral and choral oratorio which I plan to call 'Nine Sided Star' and will examine commonalities of the major world religions. There is much I would like to write, but I am forced to be practical and, as I do not play my own music, I write music that performers would like to play, from solo to orchestra, choral to instrumental. I have written a few solo songs, but this is not a major feature of my output. Basically, I collaborate mainly with performers who are asking for new music.
What Is Your Ultimate Goal In The Music Industry? What Is Your Plan Of Action?
My ultimate goal is to get as many professional musicians to play my scores as possible. This is vitally important to me as it is to be my legacy after my death! I want my music to be performed even when I am not around to promote it! I have currently a small handful of performers committed to playing my music, but I need many more - many more. Professional performers are usually very busy people so, even if I find someone keen to play something of mine, it might take a few years before it actually receives a performance.
I would also like to build up the number of recordings of my music. One entire album of my compositions has been released on CDBaby, called 'Sounds of Spirit' and is a recording of a live performance given in 2015 in Skopje, Macedonia. The other is a piano recital given by the South African pianist Benjamin Fourie and includes my 'Four Kinds of Love'. Sadly, Benjamin died last year having given a number of performances of this score, so I am promoting this album on his behalf.
It should be said that, for a composer in my genre to get any decent recordings is relatively unusual, but my plan of action has to include getting more recordings of my music.
What Is Your Favorite Track To Perform Live and Why?
As I have said, I do not perform live, but rely on the services of excellent professional musicians to play my scores. My particular favourite is the performance of my 'Elegy for the Casualties of War' recorded in Bloemfontein during a festival of new music in 2015. This can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuOqZRKnc-M. It is written for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The performers were an ad hoc ensemble so, although the performance was excellent, are not likely to be able to get together to play this work again! This is one of the major challenges in this genre of music.
More recently, I have been impressed by the piano playing of a young South African student pianist, Dominic Daula. He played my 'Reformation' for piano in October 2018 during another festival of new music in Port Elizabeth. The recording is not yet available online but is being prepared for upload to YouTube.
What Has Been The Biggest Challenge In Your Career Thus Far?:
My biggest challenge has to be getting performers to play my music! Then to obtain recordings of the performances.
What’s Your Typical Songwriting Process?
I do not write many 'songs' as such as much of my music is instrumental. I consider my composition process to be somewhat unique as I tend not to write in the standard 'diatonic' key system, rather I use modes as scales for my melodies and harmonies. Rhythm is also a key element in the process. I usually start with a short melodic or harmonic fragment which I usually write down on paper. From here, I use the Sibelius score-writer to develop this initial idea, developing and expanding the melodic phrases, harmonic ideas and rhythms in accordance of the framework of the composition. It can be a very extended process taking me several weeks or months. The orchestral score 'These Fruitless Strifes' took nearly a year to complete!
How Has Social Media Influenced Your Career As An Artist?
I do enjoy the use of social media as this puts my name and what I do 'out there' for the purposes of networking. Personal contact with people usually enjoys the most success for me.
What Are Some Tracks and Artists Currently On Your Playlist?
Tracks that have been recorded include:
'Remember' for SATB choir: https://youtu.be/pvCRtqiFfMo
'Elegy for the Casualties of War' for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuOqZRKnc-M
'Suite of Dances' for harpsichord played by Dominic Daula
'Transmutations' for flute, clarinet, saxophone and piano; see CDBaby album
'String Quartet no. 2 - Five Aspects of Spirit'; see CDBaby album
'Reformation' for piano played by Dominic Daula
'In Honour of Madiba', for flute, viola and piano
'The Passing of an Icon', for soprano solo, string quartet, piano and percussion
'Dance of Africa' for violin and piano: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FP_1SYOitlk
'Impromptu' for solo cello: https://vimeo.com/146500298
Most of the performances were by ad hoc players so giving their names is not very useful.
What Did You Do Before You Started Making Music?
I started writing music when I was 12! I realised that making a career out of composition was not going to work for me, so I studied physics and, as a result, was 20 years in the electronic design industry. After this I was encourage to teach music and have done this since 1991. I am still teaching music, even at the age of 70.
Any Advice For Young People (Men or Women) That Want To Succeed In The Music World?
Advice depends on your genre. I have no experience of the world of Indie music, whether rock, pop, rap or whatever. I can only advise about so called 'Art' music as I have described. Every individual is different, so there really is not one advice that fits all. If you are determined to make a career in this genre, you need to take advice from your mentors, whether at school, college, university or wherever you can. Many composers end up teaching as a means of providing themselves with an income, although this can be very challenging.
What Would You Change In The Music Industry If You Were A Top Music Executive?
I would like to see agencies that help composers, such as myself, to connect with professional performers and arrange concerts and recordings.
How Do You Feel About Originality?
Everyone is an individual so has his/her own unique 'voice'. Having said, not everyone writes in an individual style. Finding one's own voice is essential in our current musical environment. However. originality can be used to excess - the most important thing being a well-crafted piece of music that has some identity of the composer's individuality.
Is There Anything Else We Should Know About You Or That You Would Like to Add?
Writing music in the 'Contemporary Art Music' genre can be very challenging, even if a composer has developed a good technique. If he/she does not perform well, then finding performers is a basic challenge. I have used my spare time to write much of my earlier scores but it was only when I moved to South Africa in 2007 was I able to devote more time to composition. I still have to fit around teaching and promotional activities but, being technically retired and not having a full-time job, is helping me to develop myself as a composer.
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